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Night Cycling in Seoul

Chasing a fixed-gear racer through the streets of South Korea’s capital.

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Over the past decade, South Korea’s bike scene has gathered momentum. Thanks goes in large part to former President Lee Myung-Bak, whose commitment to laying hundreds of miles of bike paths spawned the Four Rivers cycling trail, which stretches across nearly the entire length of the country, and a leisurely biking area in Seoul along the 50-mile Hangang River bike path. But “Ride in Seoul” — a short film by Seoul based filmmaker Youngmin Park (who signs his productions under the name “Jayful”) — catches a very different glimpse of cycling action in the thick of the country’s capital city.

Jayful, who specializes in commercials, music videos and branded content, kept admirable pace with subject Hacheon Park (a sponsored, competitive fixed-gear racer), who pedaled aggressively through traffic in devil-may-care lines. “I was on the back of the motor bike, one hand on the driver and the other hand holding a gimbal with camera,” Jayful wrote via email when asked how he shot the film. He used a Sony a7S with a Canon 24mm lens, an Atomos Shogun monitor and Ronin-M gimbal for stable shots. “It was my first time doing it and I was worried, too,” he replied to a concerned commenter on the video’s Vimeo page, “But it was not that risky as much as you think [sic].” He complemented the film’s techno soundtrack, provided by German producer Alexis Troy, with the sounds of the whipping wind. “I didn’t use any sound recorder. Didn’t really care about the sound,” he wrote.

In his Tumblr promotion of the film, Hacheon Park said, “I’d like to show Seoul. It’s where I live and it’s only one part of Seoul. I hope people want to come to this city.” He was right in that viewers do see only one part of Seoul: the blurred streets of a city too slow for its cyclists.

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